Get your cheesy, vegetable-packed, cozy fix with this lasagna-inspired casserole that uses tender slices of butternut squash in place of traditional noodles. The result is colorful layers of Italian sausage, fresh spinach, creamy ricotta, and melty mozzarella. (It also just happens to be gluten-free and low carb.) And if you can't get enough butternut squash, be sure to also check out my Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce, Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup and Stuffed Butternut Squash. They are all so easy and so delicious.
Good morning friends - how are we doing out there? It’s halfway through January and here in Kansas City we’ve already been hit with enough snow and ice and the muddy aftermath that I’m ready to hibernate. I just want the cozy socks, the flickering candles, and the delicious smell of something baking hands-off while I watch all the Netflix. Who’s with me?
Enter this casserole that started as a marriage of a somewhat traditional lasagna and my favorite holiday side dish, Creamy Butternut Squash and Spinach Casserole. When I started testing the recipe, it felt like the lasagna noodles were getting in the way, so out they went. No fussing with noodles here. Just colorful layers and so. much. savory. flavor. (If you are looking for the noodles, check out my Lasagna Bolognese!) And one more thing - even though this isn't a "traditional" lasagna, I think you will find inspiration on what to pair with this delicious dish in my What to Serve with Lasagna guide. Okay, on to the recipe!
See this No-Noodle Butternut Squash Lasagna up close and personal in the video recipe below.
How To Make No-Noodle Lasagna
Just like most traditional lasagna recipes, prep each of the layers before starting. Thinly slice the butternut squash. Mix together the ricotta-goat cheese layer. Slice the mozzarella. Cook the sausage and spinach. From there, it’s as simple as layering and baking.
Tips for Success
You’ll want the butternut squash to be very thinly sliced here. It’s worth getting out a mandolin if you have one, but you can easily slice them by hand as well. Just keep in mind that the dish isn’t finished until the squash is tender. Thinner slices = the dish will cook faster. Thicker slices = the dish will need more time to bake.
Assemble the casserole up to 2 days ahead and cover it tightly. Refrigerate until ready to bake and then bake according to recipe instructions.
- Butternut Squash - When selecting a butternut squash, look for one with a long neck and a small bulb (rounded section) because the neck is the easiest part to slice. I often just slice the rounded bulbs off and scrape out the seeds and then freeze them to stuff and bake in other recipes. (It’s really difficult to slice that part.) You’ll need about a 3 pound squash for this recipe.
- Italian Sausage - Italian sausage comes in mild and spicy versions, so choose your favorite. For a lighter option, look for turkey or chicken Italian sausage which has all the flavor and is less fatty and hearty than the classic variety made with pork.
More Cozy Casserole Recipes
- Creamy Chicken Enchilada Casserole
- Tuna Noodle Casserole with Crunchy Topping
- Vegetarian Tater Tot Casserole
- Taco Casserole with Ground Beef
- Spinach and Artichoke Baked Pasta
No-Noodle Butternut Squash Lasagna
- 3 Quart Casserole Dish
- Half Sheet Pan
- Mixing Bowl
- Saute Pan
- 15 ounces Ricotta Cheese
- 2 Tablespoons chopped Fresh Parsley
- 1 large Egg
- 4 ounces Creamy Goat Cheese
- 1 pound Italian Sausage (see note)
- 8 ounces Baby Spinach
- 4 cloves Garlic
- 1 3 pound Butternut Squash, peeled, seeds removed and sliced into ⅛ inch slices
- 8 ounces Fresh Mozzarella, very thinly sliced
- Salt and Black Pepper
- ½ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
- Preheat oven to 425°F / 220°C.
- Spray a 3-quart casserole dish (rectangular or oval shaped will work) with nonstick cooking spray. Place casserole dish on a sheet pan (this is important to catch any drips if the casserole bubbles over).
- In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta, parsley, and egg. Stir well. Crumble goat cheese over top and stir until even. Set aside.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add sausage and saute until cooked through and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer sausage to a paper towel-lined plate to cool slightly.
- Return pan to heat.
- To heated pan add spinach and garlic and saute until spinach is wilted and garlic is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add spinach to bowl with the sausage and stir to combine.
- Layer the bottom of the prepared baking dish with butternut squash slices. Season lightly with some salt and black pepper. (Don’t skip this step to lightly season each layer of butternut squash; this will help to bring out the flavors and draw out excess moisture from the squash as it bakes.)
- Add a thin layer of mozzarella, then a thin layer of Italian sausage-spinach, and finally a thin layer of ricotta mixture. Continue the layers, including seasoning lightly with salt and pepper, until all of the ingredients have been used, ending with a layer of butternut squash. (Note: I like to save about ¼ cup of the spinach and sausage mixture to put on top of the lasagna just for appearance.)
- Cover the lasagna tightly with foil and bake until squash is tender, 35 to 50 minutes. (Note: Remove foil after 45 minutes and check to see if the squash is tender. If you sliced the squash by hand and / or the slices are on the thicker side, it may take the upper limit of the cook time.)
- Remove foil and sprinkle the top of the lasagna with parmesan cheese.
- Return to the oven and continue baking, uncovered, until golden brown on top, about 15 minutes more.
- Let lasagna rest in the pan for about 10 minutes before slicing (this short rest will help the slices to come out cleanly).
Loved this. I had some cubed, already cooked butternut squash so used it". Kept everything else the same....it was delish! Thanks! How does it freeze?
Great idea! So glad to hear that the cubed butternut squash worked - what a great idea. I haven't tried freezing it because it does so well assembled and then refrigerated. So if I make it ahead, I've just done it a day or two ahead of time and then baked when we're ready. Ricotta can be a little finicky when frozen, but I think that if it was covered tightly, it could easily be frozen before or after baking for a month or two with good results.
Made with two heaping teaspoons of dried parsley instead of fresh otherwise made as directed. My new favorite butter nut squash recipe!!
However, there might be step missing between 8 and 9. I think it should say cover with foil and bake for 30 min.
Thank you for posting this!
Oh my goodness - thanks so much for sending me a note - we've updated the recipe with that crucial step (that we somehow omitted when we uploaded the steps). Really appreciate it, and so glad you enjoyed it!
Can you say how you used the mandolin on the butternut squash to get rounds instead of strips? And what did you do about the middle with all the seeds and whatnot? I have a mandolin and I can't figure out how to do what you did. Thanks
Sure! First I sliced through the entire squash to separate the neck from the bulb. Then I peeled the neck with a vegetable peeler and sliced those across using the mandolin. Those are the nice round pieces. Check the video in the post to see me doing this - it's quick but you should be able to see the mandolin part. Then for the bulb, I peeled that, sliced it in half, scraped out the seeds and then used the mandolin on each of those portions. Those won't be round - they're crescent-shaped so I put them in the bottom / middle and save the nice round pieces for the top.
Thank you so much for replying! Does heating the squash make it easier to slice, like a sweet potato?
Would mild cheddar work in lieu of mozzarella?
Absolutely - I think that would be delicious, and I'm 99% sure I've made it that way.
This was soooo good. I made a few changes based on ingredients I had available- forgot to grab ricotta & goat cheese so i used more mozzarella & added a lot more spinach & mushrooms. I made a quick marinara by blending bottled sun dried tomatoes & canned tomatoes as I was worried the recipe would be dry w/o the extra cheese. It wasn’t a lot - just enough to add a thin layer. This dinner was a huge hit at our house, for all the peeps - gluten free, low carb people were thrilled. Even better the next day! Thank you
I'm so glad you liked it! And thank you for sharing those tips and adaptations!